Space Oddity
by Dale Edmonds

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Porridge in the mornings in winter, toast in summer, orange juice no matter what the weather. Down to a dozen students in the seventh year, and there's no time to talk about the dead and departed. The sky over the Great Hall crackles with thunder and Harry and Draco hold hands and let off sparks, fill the hall with a thousand tiny faerie lights. The first-years ooh and ahh, the ones that aren't huddled together crying, and Ron grins and downs another Butterbeer.

They're seventeen, on the cusp of adult powers, adult freedom. The adults are mostly dead.

In Snape's rooms, after they buried him in the courtyard near the Owlrey, they found a locked chest full of confiscated potions. Most of them were student pranks, and Hermione tested the rest down in the dungeons. Ron recognized the twins' handwriting, and they took turns with those bottles.

A day passed and they were nothing but colours, bleeding into each other. Pretty soft colours. Harry went to Dumbledore's bedroom and curled up beside him, patted the flowing snowy-white beard and wept because everything else was beautiful, everything else was alive.


"You go outside in pairs, d'you hear me?" Filch shouts at the third years clinging to each other, nodding with ashen faces. "You nivver go past the fucking boundary!"

Hermione pauses and looks down the corridor. Mrs Norris is curled around the dying child, licking the blood from his face tenderly. Hermione sighs and goes over. Dark green tendrils shrivel down the child's legs at her approach. Mrs Norris mews, and Hermione pats her as she kneels down, touches the child's forehead with her wand and murmurs "Incedio dormien" There's barely any heat from the fire, and a handful of ash left.

She tries to remember his name, but she can't. She's forgetting more and more these days, her head crowding out with knowledge. MacGongall, Hooch and Snape quarrelling at the back of her mind, and she's filled all the library pensieves, but there's still no room for anything but spells and knowledge.

"Filch," she says, and the caretaker stops abruptly, snarls at her and then goes to the little pile of dust. She doesn't have to watch to know how tenderly, carefully he's gathering what's left. Squibs don't need to know magic. He knows the dead boy's name, she thinks.

"Are you hurt?" she asks, and the children shake their heads. "Go to the infirmary anyway. Lavender and Milly will fix you up with some chocolate."

They don't move but stare at her with big, tear-filled eyes. Hermione can't imagine why.

Later, back in the library, she remembers that their friend just died. Perhaps they were upset.


Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God's love be with you

"There's no God," Draco says and pulls on the water pipe with a blissful smile. Little patch of Trelawny's special herbs and Hagrid's broken umbrella had been buried next to them. They shot up luxuriant with deep green leaves and enormous purple and orange flowers. Harry likes to sleep there, and where Harry sleeps, Draco follows.

"You going zen on me, Draco?" Harry bends down and pulls up another weed. He isn't going to do the gardening naked, no matter what Draco says, because dirt gets everywhere, but he's taken off his shirt and the weather's fine. Sun and hardly a cloud in the sky. They think it might be sometime in October because the pumpkins are as big as houses.

"D'you think a God would've let this happen?" Draco demands.

Harry looks round them. "What, vegetables? I bloody hope so. We're running low on chickens but the house elves are getting good with tofu."

"No, the war."

Harry puts down his hoe and goes to sit next to Draco. He's been bleached down by the sun, growing thinner no matter how much chicken soup he manages to keep down. Thinner and thinner and the sun never warms him. He's wrapped himself in a heap of woolen blankets, like - "Caterpillar," Harry says softly.

Draco blinks then smiles and replies, "Alice."

They kiss and then Draco pushes the blankets off and curves up into Harry's touch and there's a long, languid summer afternoon to make love in.

"It makes sense," Harry says later. "If you want a God to believe in."

"What does?"

"The war. Weren't they always waging wars? Cleaning out the sinners?"

"We're not the sinners."

"Mmm. We used magic, didn't we? If you were a God that had made us, made someone like Voldemort, well. That," Harry says, pointing to the horizon, just at the lake's edge where the air shimmered, "is a small price to pay. Kinder than drowning the whole world."

After a while, Draco sits up and fiddles with the water pipe and not looking at Harry, asks "How much longer?"

"Another couple of weeks," Harry says. "Maybe two months."


Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff

The wards are weakening. They patch them up, rest and patch up new ones. Harry's skin itches constantly and Hermione's hair has taken on a life of its own, twisting and floating away from her head, shock-straight when she begins another chant. Draco sits in the center quietly, and Ron plays wizard chess with him for hours, while Harry and Hermione complete the circles, marks the runes and shed their own blood.

The sun vanishes, and the plants begin to die under the moonlight. Draco turns silver, and the younger children begin to die in their sleep. The ghosts fill the Great Hall, and Ron and Nearly Headless Nick play quidditch indoors on the memory of brooms. Ron is fading.

One morning, Harry walks right up to the edge of the lake. He can hear the water lapping at the gravel, see the bodies floating just beyond. No smell, for which he's grateful. The lake is choked, the giant squid lazily sunning itself between meals.

The Dementors use the bodies as stepping stones. They come close, and Harry can feel the numbness crawling up his skin, the way rain soaks through clothes. He can't make out individual voices in the screaming anymore.

He can see the other side now. Everything's stretched so thin that he can see the trees, almost count their leaves. He whispers under his breath and the wind picks up and the Dementors stumble and fall with gentle splashes into the lake. The branches part and the animals come out. Unicorns, manticores, giant spiders, even the wild car. They crowd the lake shore and stand, a shuffling quiet crowd.

He whispers and Hermione's hand is cool and firm on the curve of his back, her magic flowing through to his.

The animals make no sound either as they drown. The centaurs are last, and they step with careful, grave dignity into the water. They watch Harry until the water rises past and then they're gone, and the shore is empty.

The wards thicken and Harry steps back.

"Another week," he says and Hermione nods.


This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You've really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare

They don't get the newspapers anymore. Nothing comes through the wards, nothing leaves, and the Owlery is quiet. They ate Hedwig last, after Fawkes. Dumbledore still sleeps or dies slowly, and Draco vomits what owl soup he had managed to keep down, his ribs shaking with the effort.

The last of the fifth years, two girls with long tangled hair who hold hands and finish each others' sentences, bring the clippings to the Astronomy Tower that night. It might be day. They've lost count and the clocks are smashed, the portraits torn. Nothing works, and the house elves cook the meals over open fires.

"We thought -"
"it might cheer us all up"
"When things get better-"
"soon, we'll be able to set up our own-"
"newspaper. Or a website, we-" "love computers."

There is one, still working. An old Mac from the Arithmancy lab, and they've taught some faeries to paint the screen down on parchment in return for glamour charms. They've printed up a mockup, and Ron has helped them draw. He'd been good at drawing, at sketches.

Page after page of little photographs cut out from yearbooks and pasted in. Rita Skeeter's last articles, and Harry waving or frowning. Draco smiling over his shoulder, then the last page -

In London, maybe. Hermione's hair in a bun, Harry's hair tidied for once. Draco sleek and well-fed, smirking. Dumbledore beaming as he bends to slip the Order of Merlin round their necks.

Draco flips through it in silence. "Don't burn it," he says when he hands it back. "We should pass it round during dinner."


"Whatever." He coughs, bending over until he's done. "They don't know yet, do they?"

"No. It would be cruel," Harry says. The wards shimmer closest here, lowering gently, brushing the tip of the Tower. They've lost the outer grounds.

"Mmm. Are we ready?"



"This is Major Tom to Ground Control I'm stepping through the door And I'm floating in a most peculiar way And the stars look very different today

"I'll do it," Ron said and Hermione's hands trembled when she counted out the drops into a mug of Butterbeer.

"Shouldn't it foam?" he said critically, holding the mug up to the light. "I mean, in the movies, it's always foaming with little skulls in the steam."

"Ron, those are cartoons."

"Still, tradition."

Draco tapped his wand against the side of the mug and little skeletons swirled up and danced in the air. "Better?"

"Much," Ron said. "Bottoms up."


It took him three days to die, but the magic left almost immediately. Harry felt it pass like a spring breeze. Raw green magic, and Ron's was full of hope.


"I'm tired," Ron said. "It's like I've been playing Quidditch all day and I'm just so damn tired that I'd like to go to sleep on the grass."

Hermione wrote that down. "How's your eyesight?"

"Fading. I can't make out the crest from this side of the hall anymore." He leaned his head down on her shoulder, stretched out on the pallet they'd made in the middle of the hall where it was warmest. "I can still see up close."

"How close?" she asked, turning to look at him.

He smiled sleepily. "This is good enough," he said and kissed her.


She didn't like brooms as a rule. Apparating was much more sensible. But she couldn't bring herself to burn Ron's broom on his pyre, and so she flew up for a little while. Not far - the wards were further then, but no more than a swoop around Hogwarts.

She could see the army, camped outside. Grey as far as the eye could see. Hogsmead still smouldered, and there were flashes of colour, red mostly. But grey, beneath a bright blue sky, and Hermione wept with the wind whipping away her tears, the broom trembling under her.

It drifted down and she left it out on the pitch, left it for the grass to swallow it and bury it.


For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue And there's nothing I can do

Sibyll was the last of the faculty to die. She was a wraith, chained in a corner in her own filth. None of the house elves dared to go close enough, and the children were frightened of her. Hermione went down in the evenings to see if she was still alive.

"Is he dead yet?" she'd ask. "He should be dead."

"I know. You've tried to kill him enough times," Hermione replied absently, rechecking the chains and their wards.

"Voldemort calls me," Sibyll murmured. She had a pleasant voice when she was raving, sing-song with the words sliding into each other. "He'll burn you down and eat your bones."


"But they'll rape you first. Split you wide open, won't they. More babies, more blood spawn. I'll have his child, he told me. I'll bear them for him."

Hermione paused and looked at Sibyll. "You?" she said softly.

Sibyll grinned, her sharpened teeth breaking her dry lips. Blood dripped down her chin, blood mixed with spittle. "I was beautiful," she said. "A seer's bloodline."


Hermione cleaned her with a rag and a bucket of water, no charms. She wore thick elbow-length gloves, a heavy overcoat, and rubber boots. It was swelteringly hot and Draco brought her cups of iced water and sat on the threshold of the cell and watched.

Sibyll hissed and clawed, and Hermione tied her wrists and ankles together and put one knee on her back to keep her down while she scrubbed the dirt from her skin. She combed Sibyll's hair, washed it and rewashed it with all the leftover bottles of Snape's shampoos until her hair gleamed softly.

The dress hung loosely, but she didn't look like a Hag anymore. "You're going home," Hermione whispered as she undid the ropes. "Home to Voldemort. He's asked for you."

"Tom?" Sibyll said. Her eyes cleared for a moment, and she smiled radiantly. "Tom's here?"

"Yes," Hermione said and led her out of the dungeon. "He's missed you."


Harry watched from the Astronomy Tower. Sibyll made her way with tottering steps at first, then walking and finally breaking into a run, her hair streaming behind her, her feet swift and sure. The grey parted and she ran to the center. There was a darkness there, a swirl of black cloaks and then she was gone.

Hermione and Draco came up in a while, and waited with him.


Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much she knows

It was like the end of the world at first, and then it was a storm, and then strong winds, a fierce autumn.

Now it's summer and the air is still. A breeze whispers by sometimes, and Harry thinks he can hear a name. The children sicken and die, and Filch sweeps up the ashes and leaves them on the roses in the garden. Hermione ticks names off the register and prepares letters to their parents who are probably dead too.

Draco is the last Slytherin alive. Another Hufflepuff, a girl with even teeth and short, dark curls, slips away during a meal. She yawns and puts her head down on the table and closes her eyes. Harry picks her up and for a fourth year, she's very light. The other children shift closer together.

There are thirty-seven of them left. Ron hovers near Hermione and writes a letter to his parents before he fades away one morning. Hermione stops eating. She doesn't sleep either.

"What about Dumbledore?" she asks when Filch comes in to tell them the wards are past the rosebushes.

"Not yet," Harry says, looking at Draco who's telling a story to the first-years, his cheeks flushed pink with the effort of speaking.


"Tomorrow," Draco says and kisses Harry fiercely, hungrily. "Do it tomorrow. The magic's nearly faded now."

"The plants," Harry says between kisses. "We could last another week."

"Tomorrow," Draco repeats. "All of us, Harry."

He thinks about saying no, saying yes. Before, before everything, when Dumbledore had called them up to from Herbology class to discuss the upcoming attack, when the Ministry was still standing, when - Before.

Dumbledore had looked at him and said, "It's your choice, Harry."

There had never been a choice. He said, "Yes, sir." and Dumbledore nodded.

"It's biological warfare," Hermione had said, her chin trembling. "But then we've got the chemical warfare, the concentration camps."

"Nuclear weapons," Draco drawled, sliding his hand around Harry's shoulder. "One of you over all of us."

"And how many Muggles?" Ron said quietly.

They had all looked at Harry, and he'd known the answer already, in Hermione's set jaw, Draco's soft hands clinging to him, Ron's calm.

"Yes," he'd said. "Do it, Hermione."

Now, he thinks about getting on his broom, breaking the wards and setting out into the world again. Calling up the magic they've buried. Thousands of years of magic buried and locked away in a few months. Perhaps there are pockets out there, wild dragons that haven't heard the call. A witch hermit in hiding. Perhaps what they're doing won't make a difference anyway.

Draco kisses his cheek, his forehead. The scar's faded, and his hair's falling out in clumps, just as Hermione's grows longer, down to her feet now. "Tomorrow," Draco asks. Draco's face is wet where he leans against Harry. Too tired to be angry anymore, to be cruel.

"Tomorrow," Harry says.


Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you....

The plants wither. Half the forest stands, the rest crashes down. No birds fly up, no animals run in panic. The Whomping Willow collapses, branches snapping like a pale heap of bones.

The magic feels like Ron, and Hermione tips her head back and smiles.

"All of it?" Draco asks, when they return to the Great Hall. They nod and sit down to eat lunch. The house elves are at the end of the table, their ears folded down. Dumbledore is on a stretcher beside the table, Mrs Norris curled up, purring, on his chest.

Filch finishes his meal first and glares at them. "Suppose I'll have to clean up the mess," he says.

Harry shakes his head. "No. I'll be last."

Filch nods sharply and goes over to sit next to his cat. The younger children look at them uncertainly.

"Harry?" one of them asks, and he stands up and looks at them. Draco closes his eyes and Hermione cries for the first time since Ron died.

"You did well," he says to them. "We all did well. We probably saved the world. Voldemort is gone, and everything will be alright now."

"We can go home?" a third-year asks. "Can I owl my mum?"

"Yes," Harry says and smiles at her. "You certainly can. But first, we've got to lift the charms round Hogwarts. Let some fresh air in."


"Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do."

The charms fade like smoke dispersing. Magic seeps through the cracks, then streams and rushes, through Harry and Hermione. They hold hands and for a moment, they float above the circle of children, Draco and Filch. Dumbledore shatters first, and one of the children cries out in fear or surprise briefly.

Light. So much light.

Hermione kisses Harry and her grief tastes like ashes, and his tastes like dust, and then they're blown away on the winds, and all the magic fades.


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